If you’re a woman like me, and if you’re going through this health issue, you’ll want to know this stuff. If you’re a guy, you’re either curious or grossed out. If you’re the latter, you can stop reading now. I’ll get into the spoiler in the next paragraph.
One thing that your doctor may not tell you is that when your Levothyroxine (or whatever your thyroid medication is called) is changed, this can affect your menstruation cycle for a month or two. Usually, you’ll be a few days late. This is normal.
Now if you lucky (ha!) enough to go through a I-123 whole body scan, you may spot between a period because you’ll have two things against you – the two thyrogen injections and an iron deficiency. The iron deficiency would be the main reason for the spotting though, because when you’re on an low-iodine diet, the diet is restrictive so you aren’t getting all the iron you need. And you might not be able to take vitamins during this low-iodine diet either. (I didn’t take any iron pills or vitamins during my bland, boring diet since I can’t be sure that their ingredients weren’t tainted by soy, iodine, etc).
The good news is that once you start taking iron pills and/or your vitamins again, the spotting will stop. (Of course, since I have no idea what all your health conditions are, you’ll need to speak with your doctor about iron pills and vitamins).
During the first month or so after having thyroid cancer surgery, my whole body felt very tired. This tiredness is normal and is because the body is healing from major surgery. I’d go to bed early at times, and once in awhile, I probably took a nap during the day.
I can’t remember if my throat was sore, but I remember that I had to talk a lot a few days after surgery. My mother was having cancer treatments of her own, and there were issues with various things that I had to help her with. It did hurt to talk. Unfortunately, with all the phone calls to her, her doctors, and etc, it took me nearly six months for my voice to return to normal.
Now during this month or so, my voice was scratchy and sometimes it was a whisper. I couldn’t talk any longer than a sentence or two before I totally lost my voice. Talking with also tiring. I’d have to catch my breath.
Speaking of breath, there was one time at night that I woke up feeling like I couldn’t breathe. It was scary. I’d be gasping for air. Of course, this scared the hell out of my husband. This attack happened at least a couple times or so, but during the day too. The best way to handle it is to stay calm and force yourself to breath deep. It’ll be hard during the gasping fits, but you’ll come of it. (I should say that this might not happen to you. This is what happened to me).
The incision scar hurt. It was red and puffy. The stitches were biodegradable, so they didn’t need to be pulled out. I swear that a couple of threads stuck out for some months after that. I was warned that this could happen. I was told to rub, squeeze, and roll the scar after the tape was removed. I think that the tape was removed after a couple of weeks at the doctor’s office.
Oh, and for those who like to use scar healing cream – don’t use scar healing cream on this scar. Supposedly, it will cause more harm than good. I’ve talked with several women who’ve gone through having their thyroid removed, and after a year or so, you can’t even see their scar.
I should mention that if you don’t wear a scarf or turtle necks, those who have undergone any type of thyroid surgery will come up to you to share their experiences. It is nice to know that you aren’t alone. It’s also a great conversation starter at parties.
Stranger: “How did you get that scar?”
Me: “Oh, this? Got it in a bar fight.”
Yes, I actually started replying that way. Hey, you might as well have some fun from it.
Now, if you don’t want the scar to be pink forever, you’ll have to cover it with fabric or sunscreen when you’re outdoors for the first year. Honestly, I haven’t done a great job at this. It’s been over a year and my scar is pink. But it is definitely better than it was the first few months.
During this month too, you’ll get the results from your removed thyroid. Yes, after surgery your removed flesh is taken in for samples to make sure that all the cancer was removed and other joyful things. I found out that besides the egg-sized tumor and cancerous thyroid, that my thyroid was dying. Yep, I had Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. From my high metabolism, I never would have guessed.
Before the surgery, I weighed 113 lbs. As of today, I’m 130 lbs. When you loose your thyroid, you have to really manage your diet and lifestyle, otherwise you’ll gain weight quick and it’s hard to lose. I’ve given up soda, nearly everything with corn syrup, and candy. I lowered my alcohol intake from a beer or a glass of wine each night to one beer a week. Of course, if I see a doughnut or cupcake I’m going eat it. I admit that my will-power sucks. But I am trying to eat healthier. As for exercise…well, this is something that I still need to work on too. So, don’t feel bad if your diet isn’t the healthiest and that your exercise routine needs adjustment too. Just love the fact that you’re still alive and you get to still enjoy life. Dead people can’t savor delicious foods or go for family strolls.
One more thing that I’m not sure if many women are told about – once the thyroid is removed and you’re taking thyroid medication, your menstruation cycle will be a little off for a couple of months or so. And this happens again when the dose is increased or decreased. There were times where I’d have my period twice in a month. And another where I was spotting nearly every day except for a week break. I suggest buying organic pads/tampons or buying reusable hygiene products. (I found out that the mass produced hygiene products have chemicals that may cause cancer. Having been through cancer, pre-cancer, and abnormal cells, I’m not taking that chance).
Next time – the bi-yearly ultrasound, thyroid medicine adjustment, and the radiation iodine treatment.